August 5, 2014
For some crazy reason, two weeks after we started teaching, we are now on vacation! I know, weird, it’s just the way our contract worked out. Since we haven’t even received our first paycheck, we decided to stay local and go somewhere in Korea – Jeju Island. Jeju is off the southern coast of Korea and is often called, “The Hawaii of Korea.”
We left on Monday afternoon after we dropped Truman off at an animal hospital for the week. He is probably very sad and angry at us.
It was only an hour flight from Gimpo Int’l. in Seoul. We arrived in Jeju at 4:45 and caught a cab to our first destination – Boris’ Brewery. We actually found it (we do not always have such luck) and to our dismay it was closed! Luckily, Boris was just walking up and he let us in early to drink some of his beer! We were so happy! Boris is a Spaniard from Madrid who met a Korean in Berlin and has now lived on Jeju for going on 11 years. Zach and I had his pale ale (with plenty of tasty hops) and I tried his schwarzbier too. Great beer! The first great beer we’ve had since moving to Korea – sorry, Korea. Unfortunately, the fate of Boris’ is unknown. In January he will be forced to leave his current location. So if you are visiting Jeju before January 2015 go to Boris’ Brewery! Boris, we wish you all the best and if we see your beer in bottles, we’ll buy it!
After Boris’, we caught a bus from Jeju City to Seogwipo (pronounced Sewgeepo, what?!) where our couchsurfing host, David, lives. We met David at his place and we talked for a while about what to do, what to see. He’s a cool guy from California and has been teaching on and off in Korea since 2008. He stays with his girlfriend so we basically have his half of the apartment to ourselves – it’s a much bigger apartment that ours!
Today, we woke up and went to a coffee shop David recommended. Great coffee can be hard to come by in Korea (it’s all very sugary) so we’re happy when we find a place that’s good.
After fueling up for the day we were ready to begin our first full day. One of the things we had read about, which David also recommended, was Jeju’s Olle trails. In Jeju, the word Olle traditionally meant the narrow pathway that connected the street to one’s home, however now it refers to a series of pathways that go around the island. It’s an appropriate term as the Olle does connect you in a more intimate way to the island. There are 19 different Olle routes and their distances vary. Some are only 5 or 8km, but most are longer at 19-20km. David recommended we do Olle Route 6 which begins at Soesokkak and ends at Oedolgae and is 14.4km (8.95miles). Here’s a map I got from the Olle website:
The path changed a lot over the course of the 14km. Sometimes it was on the road, sometimes a very narrow, forested path, and other times a boardwalk. We didn’t actually have a map of our route so we relied on blue and orange ribbons and arrows to guide us.
Then we diverted away from the coast to climb what we now know was a small inactive volcano, Jejigi Oreum. At the time we had no idea what we were climbing; we were just following the signs!
Then for a while it felt like we were just walking, walking, walking. We would go in a forest, back onto a regular road, then back into the forest. There were a lot of nice views along the way and plenty of bathrooms and stores where we could buy more water.
Finally we made it to our first waterfall of the day – Sojeongbang. It was a baby waterfall really, but it felt great standing in the mist.
Then we continued along the olle for a while more before the next waterfall – Jeongbang. Jeongbang is one of the big tourist sites in the area so it wasn’t as peaceful, however, we were able to seclude ourselves for a little while and enjoy sitting in the spray. At 23m high (75ft), Jeongbang is supposedly the only waterfall in Asia that falls directly into the ocean. According to legend, during the Qin dynasty in China, a man, Seobul, was sent to find the elixir of eternal life and came to Jeongbang – however he either did or did not find the elixir! We saw both explanations on two different signs so, you be the judge!
After Jeongbang, we had quite a bit of walking left and we were gettin’ tired so there are basically no photos! Also, the path was mostly along the street so it wasn’t too scenic. We finally reached the end of our Olle Route at Oedalgae (pronounced weedlegay)! Yay! Oedelgae means “lonely rock,” but I later realized I didn’t even get a photo of the lonely rock, oops! Oedelgae is more importantly a little swimming spot. There are several pools created by the volcanic rocks where people can swim – I think my parents have been to a similar spot in Kauai. Anyway, it was great finally getting into the water! It was pretty cold, but once in it felt wonderful.
After Oedelgae we had to walk a little while into town before being able to flag down a cab. We were tired and very hungry. So we showered and cleaned up and then walked to a restaurant nearby for dinner. It was a very long, but great first day in Jeju.